Foundation strives to empower women

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 29 March, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 29 March, 2008, 12:00am

People share their volunteering experience

Vanessa Sanderson knew she was on to something good when she volunteered for The Women's Foundation, a non-profit organisation that helps shape the future of women and girls in Hong Kong.

The 27-year-old Briton came across the foundation by chance while trawling through the internet upon finishing her master's degree in developmental studies, and jumped at the chance of doing voluntary work for them in February. Ms Sanderson said the foundation attracted her because it focused on feminism and women's rights, areas she is most interested in.

The Women's Foundation is seen as a voice for Hong Kong women and girls and its aims are to help women achieve equality in a male-dominated world. Ms Sanderson said the foundation focused on three areas: empowering girls to become successful leaders, increasing the amount of women in visible decision-making processes and using financial independence and security to help lift women out of poverty.

'By funding projects and programmes in those areas it's aiming to achieve economic self-reliance as a way out of poverty,' said Ms Sanderson, an intern at the foundation and a volunteer for the Asian Human Rights Commission.

'I've always been interested in feminism and gender issues. That began during my undergraduate studies and, obviously during my MA, it became more focused on women's rights in a development context. It's something I feel passionately about. That's what attracted me to The Women's Foundation.'

Ms Sanderson's time at the foundation includes working on a project where the foundation focuses on women taking on leadership roles and a greater part in decision-making processes. 'The way they want to achieve this is by creating mentoring programmes for young women. We are trying to break through that glass ceiling and really push them to the top levels. It's been really interesting work.'

One of Ms Sanderson's most memorable experiences since joining the foundation was taking part in a fund-raising dinner recently. 'It's something I had never experienced before. It was encouraging to see how many people participated and donated towards The Women's Foundation programmes.'

Ms Sanderson said she hoped to eventually move to Bangladesh 'and work with an NGO there'. She said: 'I really want to learn as much as I can about women's rights in countries that suffer from frequent poverty and deprivation.'


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